Tagged: San Diego Padres

Did Atlanta Salvage This Off season?

Did the Braves salvage this off season? To be honest, I don’t think they did. When you look back at what could have been you can picture an Atlanta Braves team with a dominating pitching staff and a powerful offense. Instead Atlanta has an above average pitching staff and a somewhat weak offense. What could have been?

Jake PeavyI think this all goes back to the Jake Peavy rumors. Both sides managed that whole deal horribly. Sure, Kevin Towers may have been asking a little much, but Frank Wren pulled out because of an extremely minor detail. The Padres wanted Jeff Locke to be included and Frank Wren didn’t want to add him. If you do your research you will see that Jeff Locke is a pitcher in A ball that can been called “wild.” The kid can hardly find the strike zone and you aren’t going to add him into a deal to bring in one of the best pitchers in baseball? I think that is a joke.

By not making that trade Wren is showing he is not willing to give talent to get talent. The best players aren’t going to come free. You have to give up quality to get quality in return. The Braves would have given up potential All-Star Yunel Escobar, but they could have turned around and signed Rafael Furcal or Orlando Cabrera to replace him.

A.J. Burnett

If Atlanta brings in Jake Peavy they could make a serious run at A.J. Burnett. Already having a star on the team makes a difference when trying to lure a big time free agent. Another problem was the contract offer. Atlanta basically came up a few million short of New York’s offer. Atlanta can’t put up a few more million to bring in a second ace? That is ridiculous. If you want the big time players you have to put up big time money. It really is that simple. With Peavy and Burnett at the front of the rotation they would be tough to beat in any series.

Javier VazquezInstead of having two All-Star aces at the front of the rotation the Braves have Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez. Atlanta ran themselves into a corner and ended up over paying for Derek Lowe. The Mets weren’t going any higher on their offer, the Braves flat out over payed. Vazquez is an innings eater but he is getting payed over $11MM. If a team is paying a pitcher over $10MM he better be an All-Star caliber pitcher. Vazquez is not that. Sorry, but it’s the truth.

Instead of trading for Javier Vazquez Atlanta could have traded for Jermaine Dye. He would have been the power bat they needed at a reasonable price. Dye is getting payed just under $10MM and he is going to give you 30-35 home runs and drive in over 100 runs. That is a bargain if you ask me. Frank Wren is not willing to spend money unless he has his back against the wall. After John Smoltz left he knew he needed to bring in Lowe, at any cost.

Smoltz deserved to be brought back just like Tom Glavine deserves to be brought back. I’m not saying that Wren is a bad GM because he is not. But any Braves fan that says Schuerholz would have done better is not looking into this deep enough. John Schuerholz has just as much influence on the Braves has Wren does, they are both to blame. Wren is not a bad GM, this whole off season was just mismanaged. You cannot be afraid to take risks. Peavy and Burnett are both risks, but their rewards are so great you have to take the chance. You have to in order to be successful.

Kelly JohnsonNow you have to take a look at the Rafael Furcal deal. Why were the Braves trying to bring him in anyway? The Padres deal for Peavy was dead and I doubt Furcal would have been happy playing second. Why trade Kelly Johnson anyway? He is a solid player that has made great strides after he used to play left field. I know, he played shortstop for a long time. But shortstop and second base are different positions. Get over it. Changing positions is not easy at all.

Then the Braves come out and say they won’t work with Furcal’s agency anymore. Peter Moylan happens to be represented by that agency and he is a very good player. Atlanta needs Moylan to come back and be solid in the bullpen for them to be successful. That deal also goes back to the Braves being cheap and not willing to outbid anyone. The times of home town discounts and taking less money to play for your favorite team are just about over. It comes down to money.

I don’t think the Braves salvaged this off season as they should be a lot better. They made strides in the right direction but only when they had their backs against the wall. They were reluctant to spend money and then over payed when they didn’t need to. It just goes to show you that taking risks and managing a team are underrated aspects of the game.

Sincerely,

~Ben 

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Whats Next?

What is next for the Atlanta Braves? That is the question of the day. They let a fan favorite in John Smoltz pack up and head to Boston. They lost out on Jake Peavy, A.J. Burnett and finally Rafael Furcal.

Kenshin KawakumiNow they are after Japanese pitcher Kenshin Kawakami. Here is the scouting report for everyone. His fastball tops out in the low 90’s and he mixes in a slow curve with a cutter. I haven’t heard of any crazy sounding pitches like the gyro ball that Daisuke Matsuzaka has. He sounds like a normal pitcher to me. He doesn’t have the typical deceptive delivery that is normally seen from Japanese pitchers, this guy just relies on his natural stuff. That could be good, then again, it could be bad.

Heard of that Kei Igawa guy? That turned out great didn’t it? (Laughs to self)

Japanese players can be really good like Matsuzaka, or they can be a complete bust like Igawa. I’m hoping he isn’t the later if he signs with the Braves. Baltimore however is also interested so don’t get your hopes up Braves fans. The Orioles have already signed Koji Uehara who is also a Japanese pitcher. Playing with another Japanese player may sway Kawakami’s decision to the Orioles. The Braves are apparently really close, but it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.

Derek LoweThe other pitcher Atlanta is going hard after is that Derek Lowe guy. I hear he isn’t bad either. That’s just what I heard though. Atlanta is apparently getting ready to propose an offer, but how do we know Lowe won’t turn around and use that as leverage for the Mets? (cough, cough Rafael Furcal, cough.)

Signing Lowe would be HUGE for the Braves. They would fill a need while stealing him away from those darn Metropolitans. They have made major changes, especially in the bullpen. They are already making me sweat with J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez in the 8th and 9th innings.

The Braves can also have that luxury in the bullpen with Mike Gonzalez, Peter Moylan, and Rafael Soriano. If that darn Soriano would just stop having mysterious injuries that won’t allow him to pitch but are invisible to MRI’s. He has been leaving the team doctors puzzled and the Braves’ fans pissed. Oh so convenient that right after you sign an extension you “get hurt.” Prove it bud and you can sit all you want. Ask Mike Hampton, he did it.
Confused doctor

This off season the Braves have been all talk and no action. They talk of great things, but get nothing. As a fan, I am hurt by this. It really hurts when your team does nothing to make the team better. Sure, they signed Javier Vazquez. That is nice and all but it isn’t what they really need. Now I know what the Nationals, Marlins, Blue Jays, Padres, and Twins feel like. Every year they sign a whole bunch of nothing and their fans have to watch that bunch of nothing try and compete in a league stocked with talent. That talent is just stacked in a handful of places, not everywhere like it should be.

Maybe Atlanta can pull some strings and pry Xavier Nady away from the Yankees for less than they want. Fill a team need and make the Yankees worse, sounds like a deal to me. I doubt the Braves will get him as I have heard New York wants some top of the line prospects for him. Every Braves fan already knows Frank Wren won’t dare trade a prospect that may or may not suck. We learned the hard way in the Jake Peavy deal.

By the way, congratulations to Florida on winning the BCS National championship game and being voted the #1 team this year. Utah deserved both of those and got neither but whatever. That’s sports politics for ya.

Have a nice day,

~Ben

Hot Stove Happenings

Mark Teixeira ~ Boston is out of the running, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Washington are still in the hunt. I see the Angels coming out on top for Teixeira. Baltimore and Washington aren’t anywhere near winning anytime soon. I think he would take a little less money and play for a good team.

Greg Norton ~ signed a one-year contract worth $800K to remain with the Braves. Good switch-hitting, pinch hitter. Good signing.

Juan Rivera ~  has agreed to a three-year deal worth $12.75MM to stay with the Angels. Good signing if he can keep up his production. Maybe in case they can’t sign Tex?

Padres ~ signed Jody Gerut to a one-year deal for $1.1775MM. Odd signing to me. Aren’t they supposed to be cutting salary? Solid year, not bad for the money.

Cincinnati ~ are interested in Jerry Hairston Jr., Rocco Baldelli, and Willy Tavares. I like Baldelli best out of the group. He has the most upside of the three. Especially since his health issues are treatable.

Bobby Crosby ~ was placed on outright waivers by the A’s. Who’s going to play shortstop?

Mets ~ looking to acquire 2 of Derek Lowe, Oliver Perez, or Randy Wolf. Order is by preference.
Lowe is obviously the best pitcher of the 3. Perez has the most left in the tank, Wolf has the least value.

Randy Wolf ~ is seeking 3 years and $30MM. Not worth it to me.

Randy Johnson ~ has received several offers. The Dodgers are expected to place an offer while the Cubs were rumored to be interested if they didn’t land Jake Peavy. I think he lands with the Dodgers or stays with Arizona.

New York Yankees ~ could be avoiding signing Ben Sheets. Smart? Maybe. We will see.

Cheers,

~Ben

Now What?

If by some strange reason you have yet to hear, A.J. Burnett signed with the New York Yankees .The deal is 5 years and worth $82.5MM.

That is fine and dandy for the Yankees, but what do the Braves do now?

At this point I think they need to go after Jon Garland and Ian Snell. The only problem in acquiring Snell is what the Pirates would ask in return. I have heard a lot of teams have walked away from them because of their steep asking prices.

Jon GarlandIf the Padres come crawling back with the Jake Peavy deal I think the Braves need to make it clear that Yunel Escobar is off the table. They did not earn him in the last negotiations. In the previous deal San Diego had asked for 2 major league ready pitchers and 1 major league ready center fielder. The Braves offered Yunel Escobar, Gorkys Hernandez, Blaine Boyer, Charlie Morton, and Jeff Locke. That is a potentially great shortstop, a major league ready center fielder, 2 major league ready pitchers and a future starter. More than they asked for and they said no. They don’t deserve Escobar this time around.

Pat BurrellIf the Padres do come back and accept the fact they won’t get Escobar I believe the Braves have no other choice but to get the deal done. They don’t have many other options at this point in time. Next is the left field situation. I have the solution…Pat Burrell. Before you snap, key point, 1 or 2 year deal. No long term situation. Continue to read and hear me out.

The Braves have a player named Jason Heyward. He is extremely good and is only 18. He is expected to hit the majors by 2010. If this is the case why find a long term fix now? You don’t. Atlanta can sign Pat Burrell to a 1 year deal with a team option for a second. This is in case Heyward slows in his development which is likely. Burrell is a right handed power bat which the Braves are searching for. He would slip into the 4 spot in the lineup between Chipper Jones and Brian McCann when a right handed pitcher is starting. When a lefty comes in he would slip back to the 5 spot and McCann would bat 4th.

Having a right handed bat play left field allows the Braves to stagger their lineup, as in right, left, right, left. This makes the other team think more about bringing in a specialist from the bullpen in a late game situation. This would be a great strength for the Braves. Burrell could also come at maybe $8MM or $10MM per year. This is a bargain for the statistics he is capable of putting up. Thank you bad economy.

Ryan LudwickThe reason I chose signing Pat  Burrell over trading for  Ryan Ludwick is the simple fact that Ludwick is unproven. He had one really good year. Burrell has had several. Burrell has shown he can produce year after year.

I still don’t love Burrell because he strikes out more than I would like, but hey, you have to make sacrifices. It would also be a short term contract so if he is horrible for one year the team can decline his option, making him a free agent. No more Burrell. This gives the Braves the bat they want and serves as a short term guy to hold left field before Jason Heyward can take over. Let me know what you guys think.

Over and out,

~Ben

AHH! That’s Hot!

Hot Stove talk from around the MLB.

A.J. Burnett Burnett has been offered a deal from the Atlanta Braves. It is supposed to be worth about $15MM per year. Frank Wren says it doesn’t include a guaranteed 5th year but would most likely have an option for one. Wren will push Burnett to sign before C.C. Sabathia. If Sabathia doesn’t land with the Yankees they will most certainly turn to Burnett.

Jack Wilson Wilson has been involved in trade talks with several teams. The newest is the Los Angeles Dodgers. L.A. is looking for a replacement for Rafael Furcal who will be leaving via free agency. The Detroit Tigers have also been involved with their search for a replacement for Edgar Renteria. I see the Dodgers making the trade as they can eat some of Wilson’s contract. They may not like it but they are more likely at this point.

Edgar Renteria Renteria has signed a 2-year contract with the San Francisco Giants. I don’t really understand this trade as the Giants are old and Renteria is old. Not a good choice in my opinion.

Derek Lowe – Lowe has drawn interest from a handful of teams. One team could possibly be the World Champion Phillies. The Yankees and Red Sox are also expected to make offers to Lowe. The Red Sox I believe are the favorites at this point as both sides have mutual interest and Lowe has a desire to return to Boston.

Khalil Greene Earlier today Greene was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. Greene was traded in the Padres‘ attempt to dump salary. The departure of Greene could increase the chances that Jake Peavy can stay. Greene is coming off a very disappointing season in which he hit just above .200 with 10 home runs and 35 RBI.

Jake Peavy – The Chicago Cubs are apparently still in talks with the Padres for a deal involving Jake Peavy. The Cubs have tried to bring in a third team that would supply them with the prospects required to land Peavy. Almost all of the reports have come out of San Diego and not Chicago. This means that Padres GM Kevin Towers could in fact be exaggerating the progress of the trade. From a prospect standpoint the Braves put the best deal on the table but pulled out of the running. This could be Towers’ attempt to lure the Braves back.

Adam DunnDunn was not offered arbitration which makes him a free agent. Dunn has not drawn much interest outside of the Washington Nationals. The Nationals can put out a competitive offer but it is unlikely Dunn would accept. The deal would most likely be in the $15MM per year range. The Nationals would be bringing in a big piece that wouldn’t be surrounded by much so it doesn’t make much sense on Dunn’s part. The Nationals have also asked about Zack Greinke from the Royals but don’t have the prospects to land him.

Later,

~Ben 

Finally Getting Something Done

Well, it looks like the Braves finally made a move. This would send Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan to the Braves in exchange for Tyler Flowers, Brent Lillibridge, Jon Gilmore, and Santos Rodriguez. The White Sox are getting a little more than they should in my opinion. Am I liking this trade? Yea. Am I loving it? No.

Javier Vasquez

I’m liking this trade because the Braves are getting a solid middle of the rotation starter in exchange for some mediocre prospects. Just for the record I am including Tyler Flowers in that mediocre comment. I will address that later. Only Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez have had more strikeouts than Vazquez since 1998 while only Livan Hernandez has thrown more innings since 2000. This guy is a workhorse. He may not be an overpowering, superstar ace like Jake Peavy or A.J. Burnett, but he will be a strong piece to add to the rotation.

The Braves also get Boone Logan who was less than spectacular last year. This was the first time I have even heard his name since I don’t play close attention to the White Sox, but I have a strong grasp of the game’s above average players. I don’t feel he should be included in that group of players. What he does provide is a fresh arm to a bullpen that was worn out last year. He is just a fresh face that may be a diamond in the rough, who knows?

Brian McCannOn the White Sox side of the deal they got some nice pieces. Not great, but nice. Tyler Flowers is the centerpiece of the deal for Chicago. Before all the Flowers faithful go haywire, let’s calm down and face reality. Flowers did great in the AFL, which was a hitters league. He should be crushing the ball to be honest.

He is a catcher that can crush the ball. Wait, the Braves have that Brian McCann guy already. I’d say he is pretty good. Can Flowers move to first base? No. Casey Kotchman is better than he played and if that doesn’t work out Freddie Freeman is a better overall prospect and already plays first base. Flowers is just in a bad situation. It happens to a lot of good players. He will get over it and you guys should too.

Brent Lillibridge is a great trade since he is not major league ready. If the Braves trade Yunel Escobar there is no doubt in my mind that Lillibridge would not be able to step in and perform at the highest level. The kid has a great glove but he just can’t hit. If he can fix that then he will turn into a nice piece for the White Sox. Until then, good luck guys.

Jon Gilmore is one of those third basemen that is supposedly capable of replacing Chipper Jones. I have been hearing his name for a few years now and haven’t seen anything spectacular. Santos Rodriguez is a nice pick up for Chicago. He pitched well in both of the past two years but is still a long ways away from hitting Chicago.

Jermaine DyeIn all this was a good trade for both Atlanta and Chicago. Don’t worry about not having the prospects to get Peavy now because I doubt any of those would have been included anyway. This could in fact get Towers to come crawling back because he feels the Braves have moved on without him. It is just a matter of time before Towers comes back. Just a matter of time.

The only thing that disappoints me is that Jermaine Dye was not included in the trade. This could of possibly killed two birds with one stone in getting a starter and a power hitting outfielder. But oh well, Rome wasn’t built in a day and the Braves won’t be fixed in a day.

Cheers,

~Ben

MVP and the Heisman Trophy

Ben RoethlisbergerI have pretty much given up all hope for Ben Roethlisberger
winning the NFL MVP. He started out great, then just tailed off after
that Philadelphia game. It isn’t really all his fault as it is pretty
hard to throw from your back. He has been sacked 33 times already this
year. That is unacceptable.

The offensive line as not played
the way they should and they all know it. There is all the talk about
them having to “gel” together but I’m not buying it. It comes down to
the fact that they are getting beat by the D-line every Sunday for most
of the game. The offensive line should be the first need addressed in
the upcoming NFL draft.

Speaking of the NFL draft. Looks
like we may have quite the group of quarterbacks. You have 3 Heisman
candidates in the Big 12 alone. Colt McCoy, Graham Harrell, and Sam Bradford
are all good picks. But who will win? My pick at this point is Sam
Bradford. Check out his stats, they are ridiculous. McCoy does have a
big advantage in the completion percentage but I will address that
next.

Heisman TrophyEveryone
goes crazy about McCoy’s amazing completion percentage. It is great and
all but he is only throwing 5-10 yard passes. He dumps the ball off
over the middle and his receivers run. Every once in a while he takes a
shot down field but not often. If Bradford and Harrell took those short
passes they would be just as good if not better.

Graham
Harrell is by far the best “passer” of the three. While McCoy is the
best runner and Bradford has the best combination of both. So this year
Bradford is going to walk away with the hardware.

So, has anyone been watching that whole Big 12 Championship debacle? Oklahoma got the bid to go in and smash Missouri in the championship. I am by no means a Texas
fan, but they got screwed. Oklahoma got the bid despite Texas beating
them straight up on a neutral site. Doesn’t make any sense to me. Sure,
Oklahoma smashed Texas Tech
but lost to Texas which is what really counts. I also think it is
hilarious that Mike Leach thinks the bid should go to the school with
the highest graduation rate in the conference (Texas Tech is 1, with
Texas at 11 and Oklahoma at 12). Nice try Mike, but it ain’t happening.

I suppose I could get back to baseball. It is so hard sense not
much has been happening. I know the winter meetings are coming up but
there is just so much excitement around football. I’m still waiting
around for Kevin Towers to come crawling back with Jake Peavy. I still believe that Yunel Escobar, Charlie Morton, Gorkys Hernandez, Blaine Boyer, and Jeff Locke is more than enough. It fills every need the Padres have and it is just pure greed on Towers’ part.

Escobar, Morton, and Hernandez were all hand picked by the Padres.
Escobar is a young superstar in the making that has tremendous talent.
Boyer is a major league ready reliever who just had to much on his
plate last year. He is also pretty young. Locke is a young pitcher who
has great potential. The Padres are getting the best of the deal here
so I don’t know why they haven’t done anything. To be honest it is just
plain stupidity on their part.

Will A.J. Burnett sign with the Braves?
If they trade for Peavy then yes. If they don’t then it seems unlikely.
Adding Peavy would give Burnett added motivation to come to Atlanta. He
wouldn’t even have to be the ace if he didn’t want to. A Peavy,
Burnett, Jurrjens, then later Hudson rotation would be dominant. Maybe
the best in baseball.

Yunel EscobarIf the Braves trade Escobar then I see them turning around and instantly signing Rafael Furcal.
He wants to come back to Atlanta so welcome him with open arms. It
would also give them a lead off hitter with speed that the Braves have
lacked since Furcal left. It just makes sense. If the Braves don’t sign
Burnett and trade for Peavy I see them going hard for Jermaine Dye and Javier Vazquez. Dye would provide the power bat in the outfield while Vazquez would be a veteran, middle of the rotation pitcher.

If all else fails I would think Atlanta would turn to signing Jon Garland or Ben Sheets.
Garland would just plain eat innings while Sheets could end up being an
ace type pitcher. Garland doesn’t have great stats but he eats up
innings and keeps his team in the game. Ben Sheets can be lights out or
he can be on the bench with an injury. Sheets can either be a big game
pitcher or a monster bust. I’m afraid to find out.

Over and out,

~Ben